A Private Heaven

Two Brothers on Separate Paths to Redemption

Non-Fiction - Adventure
346 Pages
Reviewed on 02/17/2021
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Dave Eagleston grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and graduated from Will Rogers High School and Oklahoma State University. He worked for a few years as a cameraman and vocalist at KTUL-TV in Tulsa before joining the Army. After a tour as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Dave traveled the world as a commercial pilot and aviation advisor. He has had the privilege of living in exciting locations such as Burma, Russia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, three provinces in Canada, as well as several beautiful cities in the United States. He has flown prime ministers, premiers, ambassadors, the United States secretary of state, firefighters, roughnecks, game wardens, poachers, prisoners, movie stars, and a few thousand ordinary people. As a combat pilot, he was awarded two Purple Hearts, twenty-two Air Medals, and the Silver Star. As a commercial helicopter pilot, he received the Helicopter Association International (HAI) Safe Pilot Award. Dave lives in McKinney, Texas, with his wife Janie. Dave sings and plays the guitar professionally in the Dallas area and can be seen in plays and musicals as well as on television and the occasional low-budget short movie. You can watch his music videos on YouTube by simply searching for his name. Dave’s first book, West of Alva, is available on Amazon.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

A Private Heaven by Dave Eagleston is based on the true story of two brothers, Dave and Marv Eagleston, and how their volatile and abusive childhood affected them as adults. Reserved and sensitive Marv would shoulder the majority of the physical and verbal abuse from their prizefighting, alcoholic father, while Dave became a helpless bystander. Follow their story as each brother's life takes a different path. When Marv reached fourteen, a visitor to their home would ignite a change in attitude towards his parents from fear to contempt and this began a string of events that would result in his incarceration. As Marv became a hardened criminal with a hatred of authority, Dave completed a tour of Vietnam and started a family with his wife Barbara. As Dave begins his new role as a commercial aviator in Newfoundland, his wife struggles to come to terms with the drastic upheaval of her new surroundings. Meanwhile, Marv has become indoctrinated into the prison system and moves up the ranks in a prison organization. When Marv is released, he seems to have found a reason to change his life for the better but he makes one bad decision that may cost him more than anyone was bargaining for.

The storytelling by Dave Eagleston is exceptional. He transports you into each and every situation so vividly that it triggers every one of your emotions. The descriptive narrative is also absolute perfection, especially the beautiful scenery of Newfoundland. The brutality Marv endured was particularly hard to read and this sentence summed up his psychological state so well; 'Sounds of his heart breaking and his fragile character slowly eroding, one cruel beating at a time.' I resonated with the character of Barbara and her desperate attempt to adjust to new surroundings while Dave was working away. Her character at one point became a shell of her former self and I admired how Dave managed to keep his family together. I also admired how Dave dealt with his anxiety and overcame his fear in the many situations he had to face. I loved how the author switched from his own story to that of Marv's effortlessly. It gave the reader the opportunity to examine both brothers' life journeys very effectively. A Private Heaven highlights the consequences of childhood trauma and abuse, but also the ramifications of making ill-thought-out choices based on emotion, not rational thinking. There were many great lessons throughout too, such as the amazing advice work colleague Jack gave to Dave regarding relationships and the excellent manner in which Dave dealt with the rude hotel desk manager. A Private Heaven is filled with excitement, adventure and heartbreaking scenes of loss, grief and personal challenges. A great book and one that I would recommend.

Rabia Tanveer

A Private Heaven by Dave Eagleston is the true life story of a man who had to overcome personal battles after fighting a harrowing war for his country. Fighting in the Vietnam War took a toll on Dave’s mind, but that was not going to stop Dave from getting back on his feet and have a life worth living. After his stint in the army ended, he packed up his family and moved to Newfoundland. He took the job of a helicopter pilot and hoped things would get better. However, he was not expecting his older brother to cause him more trouble than he asked for. Marve had run-ins with the law, and he wasn’t shy about his misdemeanors. But Marve was the least of Dave’s worries. He had a family to feed and a job to do. Life as a civilian was not as easy as Dave had hoped it would be. Would he get used to life as a civilian? Or was he not cut out for it?

Dave’s battle to find normalcy in life after war touched my heart. He tried to find solace in his job. The imagery that the author created was exceptional and the parts where Dave was flying his helicopter were breathtaking. Dave felt free when he was in the sky and was the most comfortable as well. He associated his comfort with the sky, and it was hard for him to let it go. Even his ancient helicopter made him feel at ease more than his home. Relationships played an important role in Dave’s life. Marve was the wild child who chose trouble to express himself, while Dave chose to fly high! Dave’s pride in his little family and his desire to do better for them was the driving force he needed to be different from his brother.

The author showed how different the brothers were, not just by words but by their actions as well. While his brother's story made me think, Dave’s progress was what kept me reading on and turning the pages. The narrative style created the atmosphere and allowed me to fully immerse myself in the story. You could feel the love Dave had for Newfoundland and how the beauty of Prince Edward Island drew him in. Despite the constant action, there was a sense of peace in the story. It was as if the author felt better after penning each scene and was liberated. The narrative was cohesive, it told the story of these brothers and how they chose to live their lives on their own terms. Author Dave Eagleston not only did justice to his story but to his brother Marve’s story as well. A Private Heaven was inspiring and entertaining!

Irene Valentine

A Private Heaven: Two Brothers on Separate Paths to Redemption by Dave Eagleston is based on the true story of the author Dave Eagleston and his older brother Marve. Two years apart in age, Marve and Dave were raised with their older sister Suzie in Tulsa Oklahoma. Newly married, after completing service as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam, with 1000 hours logged, Dave and his beautiful young wife pack up the little they own and drive to Newfoundland, Canada for Dave to secure a job as a commercial helicopter pilot. He arrives to find a strange, unfamiliar collection of helicopters. The choppers parked in no particular order resembled some type of helicopter swap meet.

Dave’s adventures in the Canadian wilderness are often life-threatening, because of the volatility of the unpredictable weather. Dave’s writing is fast-paced, engaging, and descriptive, with well-chosen words to describe the spectacular Canadian coastlines, open seas, icebergs, deserted fishing villages, and forests. His vivid and succinct reports include open sea flights to offshore oil rigs, rescue missions, chasing and capturing poachers, and celebrity ‘shuttles’. In tandem with his story, Dave tells Marve’s story. Their father had verbally and physically abused Marve in his frequent drink-induced rages. Marve’s life took a very different direction of drugs and crime and several prison sentences.

A Private Heaven is a compelling read. I appreciated Dave Eagleston’s humility and honesty in acknowledging his own self-centeredness when challenged by his wife regarding the sacrifices made by her and their children as a nomad pilot’s family. I found the context of his flights fascinating, with aspects I wouldn’t have considered, like the disorientation of the total darkness when departing from an oil rig on a night flight. His story of two brothers’ lives in parallel without judgment illustrates the need for a son’s affirmation by his father. Dave's decisions in the pilot seat; his choices as a husband; Marve's choices as a husband - each illustrates the influence of our circumstances, the choices we make, and the impact of our decisions. Seemingly inconsequential choices can be foundational; each decision building on the last. This book is a worthy read on many levels.